Stress often comes when you’re overworked or experiencing a large amount of emotional tension. You naturally turn your attention to resolving the issues, but in the process, may neglect taking care of yourself. You may not realize the toll stress takes on you until you notice a few troubling signs.
Losing or Gaining Weight in a Short Period
Suddenly you may notice that your jeans are too snug or you’ve got to tighten your belt. Gaining or losing weight unexpectedly may indicate you’ve been dealing with too much stress. Many people under stress lose their appetites or skip meals. Nervous energy also burns off more calories than usual. Stress-related weight gain or loss has physical causes. Stress stimulates the adrenal glands to produce cortisol, which regulates metabolism. Too much cortisol increases the appetite as well as cravings for salty and fatty foods.
Stress may also cause insomnia or sleep disruptions. Lack of sleep can be extremely unhealthy, leading to problems such as cardiovascular disease. Sleep deprivation can also decrease the efficiency of the immune system, making you more susceptible to illness. Troubled sleep may cause problems like tooth grinding or clenching. Grinding your teeth can make chipping or cracking them more likely. To address sleep problems, try to develop a night time routine that helps you wind down. Turn off music, TV, and computers that can stimulate your mind and body. Taking a hot shower or bath is also helpful; when your body heats up and then cools down, you’ll start to feel sleepy.
Stress even causes muscle tension, and that can affect your digestive systems. In addition, stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol can decrease blood flow to your digestive organs and cause an imbalance in gut bacteria. You may experience heart burn, indigestion, or irregularity, and you could even have difficulty swallowing. You can treat mild symptoms with over the counter medications, as well as relaxation techniques. However, long-term stress can contribute to chronic problems such as irritable bowel syndrome. If symptoms are severe or persist, it’s a good idea to consult a physician.
If you haven’t been feeling your best lately, your body could be telling you that you’ve been experiencing too much stress. While you can treat the effects, also try to take steps to reduce the causes of stress.
Read this next: How to Stop Waking Up With Neck Pain